Thursday, January 31, 2013

Works in Progress...

I've been busy lately... too busy to post! I spent last weekend celebrating my 30th birthday by skiing and exploring the wacky and wonderful world of southern Colorado.

A crazy welded structure in Antonito, CO

Wearing (unblogged) me-made items in the new distillery in Salida, CO

Also, I finally got my vintage Singer 66-16 up and running. So excited!!!! I actually bought it about three years ago for something like 20 or 40 bucks at the thrift store, mostly because I liked the mid-century style of the table it came in. I've been using it as a side table, not realizing the amazing sewing machine hidden underneath. I was a bit intimidated by it, but I got it running with a little moral support from a dude friend and just a few tweaks. It runs soooooo smoooothly. I think it's from 1951.

In other news, I've hemmed my colette clovers and they are ready for some lights, camera, action!

I bought myself the newest Alabama Chanin Studio book for my birthday (I would link to it if I wasn't trying, mostly unsuccessfully, to write this blog post from my phone). Here is the tank top pattern getting its grade-up on.

I hope you all enjoy my amazing iPhone photo skillz.

The rest of my time has been spent working... if by working I mean reading the newest Barbara Kingsolver book on the tailgate of our work truck (I'm a geologist by trade).

That's the news for now, folks!


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Chevron Shirt and Gray Skirt


Shirt: Made by me
Skirt: Made by me
Cardigan: Target
Tights: Target
Boots: Frye

I need to start playing some major blog catch up here! I guess there isn't actually anyone telling me that I ABSOLUTELY HAVE to blog everything I've ever made. Well, no one except my internal organization freak, that is! So I'm going to try to back-blog some stuff I made in November and December, in an effort to be able to get around to some real time blogging sometime soon. I think it will be good to have as my own personal reference, even if no one else cares. 

chevron shirt gray skirt frontChevron shirt gray skirt side

So, here are two made by me items that I wore together yesterday. As I think I've mentioned before, my major impetus for starting this sewing journey is to create a wearable and comfortable wardrobe for my very casual life. I know a lot of sewing bloggers love to make beautiful and complicated dresses because they love the challenge and learning new techniques, but that really isn't what is (currently) driving me to sew. I feel like I have been sewing out of desperation these past few months. Desperation, because for years I have not been able to find the clothes that I WANT to wear in stores, and now I feel like I have the tools to make them. I'm trying to build a wardrobe here! And really, I've made great progress. Yesterday, I wore two made by me items, and I'm doing the same today. Hardly a day goes by now that I'm not wearing something that I have made, simply because the items I have made fit better and suit my needs better than anything I've bought in a long time. 

chevron shirt gray skirt sleeve

If I'm guessing right, this shirt was probably around the third thing I've made, back in November or December. It made it from the free Blank Canvas Tee Pattern by Steph at Cake Patterns/3 Hours Past. I have to say that I haven't been wild about the fit- I think there is a bit too much room in the bust for me, but I was (and still am) struggling with how to fit kimono sleeve tops. Something about it just confuses the crap out of me! 

Chevron shirt gray skirt back

 However, looking at these photos, I don't think its as bad as I thought it was! Its made of a nice drapey rayon knit from Fabulace on Etsy. That store has some seriously good prices. The print is a little crazy, but I think I like it!

chevron shirt gray skirt shirt detail

I did the suggested binding at the neckline, but I finished off the hem and the sleeves with my favorite- the double needle! I used some clear elastic to stabilize the shoulder seams.

Now, on to the skirt. I finished this up on Monday night and wore it on Tuesday, nothing better than that!

chevron shirt gray skirt skirt hem

This is basically a self drafted pattern. I printed off the free 30 Minute Skirt pattern from Make it Perfect, but after making a trial run with it in a different fabric, realized it wasn't what I was looking for. It was too high waisted, too long, and way too tight for me to feel comfortable in. Using it as a basic template, I lowered the waist, raised the hem, added some width, took some of the extreme shaping out of the hips, and added a casing for the elastic waist. Its pretty much not the same skirt anymore. I think I could still stand to make it a little more fitted, its probably a bit too baggy, but I'm not sure where my fitted skirt comfort level is.

Chevron shirt gray skirt detail

My cheap ass sewing machine is always skipping the zip zag stitches. What gives??? Is this fixable?? And yes, that thread color looks atrocious with the fabric, at some point I will rip it out and restitch with a darker thread. This is what happens when the closest sewing store is an hour away. Speaking of the closest sewing store, that's where I picked up this lovely material. Santa Fe Fabrics is the most beautiful and inspiring store, I just wish it didn't have Santa Fe prices (i.e., really high for the tourists) and that it was open later than 5:30 during the week days and not closed on Sunday. Makes it hard to feed the fabric addiction! Thank God for the internet (I make sure to do so at least once a day). Anyways, the fabric is a very nice poly/cotton/rayon blend that I got in the remnant bin, just enough for one skirt.

Chevron shirt gray skirt boots

My lovely Frye Harness boots. 

The End!


Friday, January 18, 2013

Gray Patterned Tiramisu

gray pattern tiramisu

Dress: Made by me, Tiramisu Dress by Cake Patterns
Sweater: Anthropologie
Leggings: Sock Dreams
Boots: Vintage

Here is another dress I finished before I decided to jump on the sewing blogger wagon. I can't remember the order in which some of these projects were finished, but I think I made it back in December, sometime before Christmas. And you better believe that I have been wearing the ever-loving crap out of it ever since. When I first saw the Tiramisu Dress pattern posted about somewhere on the sewing blogosphere, that was the moment I knew that I would inevitably be sucked into the black hole of sewing. It turns out that that premonition was correct!

Oh, and before you ask. Yes, I do know that these photos were taken from an incredibly unflattering angle. I was just too lazy to find my tripod on the day I was taking the photos so I used a stool, and then once I did find the tripod, I was too lazy to retake the photos. So please add like at least a 10% more flattering filter to your eyes when viewing these photos. Thanks!

gray pattern tiramisu frontgray pattern tiramisu back

Although I do love this dress, I had some issues with the fit during construction and still have some issues with the fit now. Even though I am fairly certain that I measured myself and the pattern correctly, when I first put it together, the bodice was ABSOLUTELY ENORMOUS. I wish I had taken a photo a the time, but I was too distraught to think of it! I think part of the problem is how short-waisted I am, but I'm not sure that accounts for the whole situation that was happening! I took about 2 inches out of the shoulder seam on both the front and back and removed about another 2 inches from the bottom of the front bodice. I then had to redraft the neckline to make it wide enough to look even remotely like it was intended. I then took two inches in on each side bodice/midriff side seam. The skirt, however, fit perfectly right off the pattern and I think the suggested length is super flattering. The last adjustment I made was shortening the midriff by about half, which I knew was probably an adjustment I would have to make from the get-go. I am so short-waisted that long midriff pieces look ridiculous on me. Since I'm such a newbie, I was kind of making up these adjustments on the fly and just trying to, in the famous words of Tim Gunn, "make it work!". I'm sure there is a much better way to go about doing these modifications.

gray pattern tiramisu detail

In the end, I think I shortened the bodice a bit toooooo much. I bought some cheap jersey to make the first attempt at this dress, and it has ZERO recovery. Whoops! By the time I was done making all those bodice modifications, the material was so stretched out that I think I OVER adjusted. After a few washings, the material has recovered and the seam under the bust sits a bit high. Whoops!


I am extremely pleased with my double needle work for the hem! BTW, this photo is a much better representation of the actual color of the dress. I-Phone camera beats the Nikon everytime! So much for expensive cameras (or maybe I should just learn how to use mine better)!


There's the backside of the hem made with the double needle. I love the double needle, but my machine doesn't I think I've broken at least one on each project. That shit is expensive!

As for the next Tiramisu, I think I will consult Steph's 30- Minutes a Day Tiramisu Sew-a-long that she is just wrapping up right now. I can't decide if I should transfer my alterations to the pattern I have already cut in the size that I used for this dress, or try to cut a significantly smaller bodice for the next go around. All in all, I love the crap out of this dress! Though I struggled a bit with the sizing (I probably should have waited for Steph to publish the sew-a-long, but I was too impatient), I think the design is absolutely perfect for my everyday life. V-neck, jersery, pockets, and a flattering full skirt? Check, check, and check. This dress is exactly what I have been looking for. In fact, I'm wearing it right now! I see many Tiramisus in my future!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Work in Progress... Colette Clover Pants

Ahhhhhhhh.  I'm practically bursting with excitement/ fear. Here is what is on my sewing table:

The Clover Pants by Colette Patterns. This is my first pair of pants! And, my first zipper insertion!


And then, I had to get all crazy and add some slash pockets using this tutorial


I think I might be insane! Thanks goodness the directions for this pattern are incredibly clearly written and aimed at a total beginner.

Finished product coming soon... hopefully they will be wearable! Pants making is terrifying!

P.S. Do you like my coffee table work station? Super classy.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Start of the Sewing Adventure- First Dress

Blue Ballet Dress

Dress: Made by me (Dixie DIY Ballet Dress Pattern)
Leggings: Sock Dreams
Socks: Sock Dreams
Boots: Sorel

The lovely Chelsea asked me to share a bit about how I got started on this new sew adventure in hopes of inspiring her to get started on a sewing journey of her own. Well, here is the first WEARABLE dress that I completed, back in early November. And, to be honest, its only marginally wearable. Its a little too short, the waistline is too high, and the material is so cheap that it clings to my leggings awfully, even if I'm wearing a slip. At least I know what to fix next time, but for now, I'm wearing it anyways!

So, here is a little bit about how I got started. I've had a sewing machine for a few years, one that my mother bought me when I was in school getting my Master's degree. I think it was so that I could make curtains or something. At any rate, thats all I had to used it for, curtains and making a few pillow covers. I had a VERY basic working knowledge of it (like, I could sew a straight line). Every few years I would pull it out, very foolishly thinking I could make a basic dress or some pajama pants without a pattern. Turns out that doesn't work very well. I had made one dress from a pattern with the help of my mother about 10 years ago and it went so poorly that I was terrified to try using a pattern again! However, when I started selling clothes on Etsy a couple years ago I went deep down the blog spiral and started reading quite a few sewing blogs. I saw a lot of ladies making lovely clothes that were EXACTLY what they wanted to wear, not just the kind-of-close-to-what-I-wanted to wear store bought clothes that I was stuck with. See, all this personal style blogging was helping me realize what I wanted to wear, but I couldn't find it in the stores. Everything was too trendy, or too cheap, or didn't fit right. How hard could it be to find some basic leggings in my size that don't have lace panels or are in a crazy color? Anyways, I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir here, but I decided that my only solution was to figure out this sewing thing once and for all!

I stumbled upon the Ballet Dress pattern on Dixie's blog and it seemed like a good place to start. Only three dollars, made of a comfortable stretchy material, and complete with a very detailed sew-a-long. It was perfect! One of the things stopping me from getting into sewing was how formal everything that everyone in the sewing blogosphere was making. And I don't just mean cocktail dresses (though there are a fair bit of those going around), my lifestyle is SO casual that people would look at me funny if I wore a pencil skirt and a blouse to work (or anywhere else). Dixie's blog was a gateway to all the independent pattern makers that are making patterns that will work in my very casual lifestyle: Dixie at Dixie DIY, Jen at Grainline Studio, and Steph at Cake Patterns, to name a few. 

Anyways, back to the dress. I followed the sew-a-long directions and I had new a dress in one night! Needless to say, at that point I was hooked!

The first step was taping together the pattern after following the printing directions. I added an inch to all the pieces at the center front to increase the size by 4 inches total (you can see my pink pen). It wasn't the most elegant grading job ever done, but it worked. 


I did make a muslin first, as all the sewing blogs had cautioned me to do. I had this crazy 70s polyester double-knit hanging around, purchased at the bulk bins at the thrift store years ago. I tried it on and it was totally wearable (well, except for the crazy pattern)! Success!


So, I made the two round trip to the closest fabric store (Joann's), bought some very cheap fabric because I was still terrified I would totally screw it up, and made up my first dress! 

Blue Ballet Dress back

Looking back I've learned a lot since then and am much more bold when it comes to modifying patterns. Next time I make this dress (and I will make it again, you can never have too many jersey dresses with sleeves), I'll make it longer. 

Blue Ballet Dress neckline detail

 I messed up the cutting so there is a seam down the center front bodice.

Blue Ballet Dress sleeve detail

As you can see above, I added a small band at the midriff. I think I'll make that band wider next time. I also added bands to the sleeves based on directions from the Dixie DIY Hot Cocoa Sweater

Well, this has been the longest blog post ever, so in conclusion I'll just share a link to Pattern Review, where you can find all sorts of inspiring projects and advice and links to amazing sewing blogs. Also, Tilly and the Buttons is doing a great series of posts on getting started on sewing. It looks like she is going to cover all the basics, so I'm sure I'll learn a few things myself. 

When it comes to sewing, I say GO FOR IT!!


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Years! And other things...

Green Leaves 123112

Dress: Made by me
Leggings: Sock Dreams
Boots: Vintage
Sweater: Columbia Sportswear

So, I've been meaning to get back into blogging for oh, I don't know, forever?? Yes, probably forever. At least approximately forever. This is mainly due to the fact that I have recently gotten into sewing in a BIG WAY. Like, probably a kind of embarrassing way. I've been pouring over sewing blogs enviously for years now, but I was totally intimidated by all the things it seemed like I would need to know and all of the things that could go terribly, horribly wrong. I was envisioning myself sobbing into a pile of wadded up fabric in front of my sewing machine. It was all very dramatic (in my mind), trust me. 

However, a few factors (the lack of place to shop in the entire STATE of New Mexico, a need for a creative outlet, the total frustration of being unable to find the type of clothing that I want for a price that I can afford, the ethical and environmental issues associated with our clothing industry, a few very enviable patterns becoming available, I COULD GO ON AND ON...) culminated a couple of months ago and I attacked my sewing problem with reckless abandon. I've since cranked out a quite a bit of lovely clothing that I've worn repeatedly and quit a bit of embarrassing and unwearable shit. However, its all been fun and there hasn't been any crying, so I hope to continue with my new obsession in the New Year. 

Quite frankly, I'm sure that was already too many words for anyone to process after the holiday vacation, so I will just say that I hope to be blogging more about sewing here. The online sewing community seems to be an awesome, supportive, and informative place and I so hope that I can be a productive part of it. I've learned SO MUCH from reading blogs and tutorials, found amazing patterns, and most importantly learned a bit about how to alter patterns to better fit my body (which is the point of sewing, after all!). I'm still at the bottom of a major learning curve here, but I hope to share my projects so that I can look back for reference, perhaps (one day) be able to help out other, and maybe get some advice and feedback on my projects. Constructive criticism is certainly welcome by this beginner!

So, without further ado, here is my most recent project with the sewing details:
green leaves detail

I drafted this pattern based very loosely on the One Shoulder Knit Dress free download from Dixie DIY. I spent a fair bit of time grading up the size and drafting the bodice, only to royally screw up the fabric cutting! Whoops. 

green leaves front green leaves back

So, all my dreams of the little rows on leaves meeting up in the center front and center back were lost! I shed a single tear then made it work. Also, I learned my lesson about taking sewing projects to my parents house, cutting fabric after one too many glasses of wine, and trying to use my mother's (too fancy for me to understand) sewing machine which kept eating my fabric. Oh well. 

green leaves outside

I ended up having to take  good bit out of the center front seam to make things look less crazy pants with the pattern, so the dress is a bit narrow across the front, pulling in at the armholes and setting the straps a little to close together (in my opinion). That said, I almost never wear dresses without cardigans because it is frigid in this state, so I'm in not too worried about it. I really love how it looks with a cardigan. 
green leaves inside

I am quite please with the fact that the bodice is lined. But no, I don't have a fancy pants serger, there are my silly little zig zag seams. Finished with clear elastic at the waist and shoulder seams. 

So, despite some flaws, I'm counting the wins thusly: drafting a basic v-neck dress pattern perfect for jersey fabric  (I hope to correct the fit problems in the next version) and making a dress that I think will get a lot of wear. In fact, I wore it last night for the New Years party that I hosted!